Which Metal Is Best for Your Fabrication Project?

The metal fabrication process looks a number of different ways depending on the metal you are working with and the method you are using. Choosing the right metal depends on the end goal of your project.

What Is Metal Fabrication?

Many of the products in your life have gone through the metal fabrication process, whether you realize it or not. It is the process of manufacturing various types of metal into different shapes specific to the product they are a part of.

This process requires skill and technical experience through stamping, welding, folding, cutting and shaping. Commercial businesses with both general and customized needs use metal fabrication.

A variety of technology is used in metal fabrication, from laser technology to computer software to plasma cutting.

Types of Metal Fabrication

The metal fabrication process can take several forms as products are created for both the custom and stock needs of companies:

  • Casting: Casting is the process of pouring molten metal into a mold where it will sit and cool into the desired shape.
  • Cutting: This is a common and simple method of metal fabrication through which a piece is split into smaller sections by laser cutting, waterjet cutting, plasma arc cutting or power scissors.
  • Folding: Folding fabricated metal happens through manipulating metal to bend at an angle using a brake press. Folding is most often used for bending sheet metal.
  • Forging: This process uses more force than others to form shapes. Forging often requires hammers or dies in order to manipulate the metal.
  • Extrusion: During the extrusion process, metal goes through an open or closed die which reduces the diameter. It is intended to create a cylindrical shape and is most commonly used for piping or wiring.
  • Machining: Machining rids a metal of unwanted parts by drilling, milling or turning methods.
  • Punching: The punching method creates holes in metal. This allows the metal to have fasteners attached to it or have holes in it for other purposes.
  • Shearing: Shearing is a method to create a straight cut through a piece of metal. The shears can be angled and placed at different lengths to customize the cut.
  • Stamping: Stamping is similar to punching, but instead of a hole, it leaves the metal with an indentation.
  • Welding: This reverses the work of most of these processes and uses heat and pressure to combine two or more pieces of metal of any shape and size.

Most Common Metals for Fabrication

Various metals are used in metal fabrication. A large span of industries can use many of these metals due to the unique traits they have. Other metals are used almost solely in certain industries for the same reason. Knowing which metal is best for fabrication really depends on what your end goal is for your project.

Here are some of the most common metals used in the metal fabrication process:

1. Copper

Copper is a metal that is widely used for metal fabrication due to its ductility, malleability, thermal and electrical conductivity, natural antimicrobial property and corrosion resistance. Because of its ability to stand up to thermal and electrical activity, it is often used in heating and cooling systems, roofing and pipe systems. Marine and industrial industries are the most likely to use copper in various contexts.

2. Stainless Steel

Stainless steel combines carbon steel, chromium, aluminum and other elements to create a metal that is a popular material for a variety of uses and is highly corrosion-resistant. Stainless steel comes in five categories, which are austenitic, ferritic, martensitic, duplex and precipitation hardening.

The metal is brittle, lustrous, does not tarnish and has an aesthetic silver mirror coating. Stainless steel’s unique and durable properties allow it to be used in a variety of applications, such as surgical instruments, appliances, cookware, metal ceramics, collectibles and cabinet fittings.

3. Carbon Steel

Carbon steel boasts a versatile design that is durable and not too difficult to work with. This is one of the most common metals for fabrication. It can withstand harsh weather, making it a welcome choice in the construction industry. The hardness of carbon steel can change based on the amount of carbon in the mixture. However, more carbon causes the malleability, ductility and melting point to decrease.

4. Brass

Brass is not quite as common as some others on this list, but it still makes an appearance in a variety of industries. The metal is an alloy made of copper and zinc and the amount of each depends on what the intended use of the final product is.

Brass is easy to form, but once it is cooled, it is durable and hard to mold further. You can find brass being used in bathroom fixtures, medical applications, musical instruments and ammunition components.

5. Aluminum

Aluminum is produced through a unique process. First, the bauxites that contain aluminum are extracted from the ground. They are then processed into aluminum or alumina oxide before going through an electrolytic reduction through which pure aluminum is created.

This metal has a desirable strength-to-weight ratio and exceptional workability, natural corrosion resistance and good thermal and electrical conductivity. You will be able to use a piece of aluminum over and over again, as it is infinitely recyclable and does not lose quality.

It is often used in household appliances, aircraft, power lines, window frames, industrial appliances and spacecraft components.

6. Magnesium

Magnesium is high in strength, low in density and the lightest structural material at the same time. It is a great option for projects that require a stiff material. Magnesium is often used for handles, locks, latches, aircraft housing, automobile parts and parts of machines that rotate rapidly.

7. Bronze

Bronze is proven to be a tried and true material for a variety of uses. Bronze is heavier than steel and stronger than copper. It has a lower melting point than many other metals. You can most often find bronze used in things like coins, cookware, armor, weapons and turbines.

8. Iron

Iron is the most common element on earth when determined by mass, which makes it a great option for a lot of industries. It is used in the production of steel or by itself.

Contact PBZ Manufacturing for Your Metal Fabrication Needs

PBZ Manufacturing is a one-stop shop for engineering, manufacturing, finishing, assembling and shipping. We remove excess layers from your supply chain and reduce the time your project takes and your manufacturing costs. Our knowledgeable staff and certified welders are ready to help you through your project every step of the way.

Contact us today to find out how we can enhance the quality of your project, or request a quote if you’re ready to take the next step.

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